The Ghanaian Prince, William Ansah Sessarako, Who Was Enslaved Instead Of Going To England

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The father of William Ansah Sessarakoo,  John Corrantee, was the head chief of Annamaboe [now anglicised as Anomabo, which is in the central region of Ghana]. Sessarakoo was born in 1736 in which was formerly the largest slave trading post during the Trans-Atlantic slaves trade.

John Corrantee then sent his son Sessarakoo to England with the determination for him to gain quality education, and to build a good relationship with the English to gain accurate information about everything that took place. Sessarakoo was then sent to England by a ship and was entrusted to the captain for transport. Instead of the captain sending him to England, the captain of the ship, sold Sessarakoo into slavery in Barbados.

Sessarakoo’s brother was first to France in early 1740s. He returned having a good relationship with France and was aware of everything going on there. The English were afraid of the relationship between France and Sessarakoo’s brother, so they offered to educate Sessarakoo in England. Corrante was very naive and thought sending his son to England would secure his future. Captain David Bruce Crichton sold Sessarakoo into slavery in Bridgetown, to the Bahamas in 1748. He was introduced to them as Prince William Ansah Sessarakoo or “The Royal African”.

Sessarakoo soon fell out of contact with everyone, with his family and the Fante people in his native land. Corrante was very distressed and blamed the British for the capturing his son. The British business prospects suffered very much because of the relationship with Corrante and the British. A Fante businessman who happened to be in Barbados recognized Sessarakoo. He then passed on the information to John Corrante, who then demanded the man should send Sessarakoo to England at once. Sessarakoo was then sent to George Montagu-Dunk to be protected till he got to England. This gave him an advantage because of his status, even though he was formerly a slave.

William Ansah Sessarakoo (b. c.1730, d. 1770), by John Faber Jr., mid 18th cent. (after Gabriel Mathias, 1749)

He was given the chance to appear in London’s events in societies with high standards. He even had the privilege to watch ‘Oroonoko’, a play which highlighted on the harsh enslavement and treatment of an African prince and his beautiful wife Imoinda. In the play, Oroonoko organizes a slave rebellion after learning his wife, Imoinda was pregnant. Oroonoko was then forced to kill the pregnant Imoinda, his wife, and then he was executed afterwards.

In late 1750, Sessarakoo then returned to Annamaboe well-dressed and extremely knowledgeable of the English culture. He became a writer at the Cape Coast Castle and also a slave trader.

In an interesting plan twist, Corrante and Sessarakoo worked hand-in-hand to deceive both the French and British by allowing both the French and British to offer competitive trade in slaves. He also accepted all the gifts on behalf of the Fante people. Sessarakoo was able to carry out the plan because of all the relationships he had with them while living in London.

After a fight with the governor of the Cape Coast Castle, Sessarakoo was then banned from entering the castle’s premises and fell out of the advantages of the British.

Sessarakoo’s activities were mostly hidden after he was sacked. He continued to live in Annamaboe where he lived a private life and engaged himself in slave trading. He died in 1770. Sessarakoo then recorded the events of his life in his memory, The Royal African: or, Memories of the Young Prince of Annamaboe.

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